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Abe Ekperuoh

Never Not East London

My name is Abraham Ekperuoh but people call me Abe. My mother is from Sierra Leone and my father is from Nigeria. I was born in London but stayed in touch with my African roots. I used to travel to Nigeria or Siera Leone a lot and I need to go back. I miss travelling a lot. Experiencing the world has been a big part of my life. I was supposed to go to Portugal for Afro Nation festival this year but Covid cancelled my plans and just before the latest lockdown I was booked in to go to Cyprus but my flights were cancelled. This is where I would be right now. In sunny Cyprus. But I believe everything happens for a reason so I am still happy.

I live in Croydon and I grew up there. My mum wanted me to go to Trinity School, a private school in the area and I had to take exams to get in but as it was an all-boys school, I failed the exams on purpose. My mum still doesn’t know to this day. I wanted to learn alongside girls and I still do, I think we can offer each other different perspectives.
I am all about learning from different people throughout the world. I went to college in America and played professional basketball. I was lucky for the opportunity. Now, I am not playing professionally anymore, I’m focusing my energy on creating a space for people to train like professional athletes and I’ve become a General Manager for a fitness centre. This has meant I’ve been quite busy in lockdown (despite gyms recently closing again).

This job has been a real blessing as I came from playing pro basketball into a full-time position. As an active person I am never going to be able to work in a 9 to 5 desk job and this is the opposite of that. It’s in a gym, a space I am familiar with and it is dealing with sports, health and nutrition, all the areas that I am enthusiastic about.

I’ve recently become vegan. Well, it’s the third time I’m giving it a go. Initially I tried it because I was having problems with my stomach and going to the hospital frequently. I realised that anytime I ate meat my body struggled to digest it and as I have a few friends who are vegan I decided to try it. It was OK but I found myself eating out a lot, particularly at a local restaurant that served chickpea curry. This time round I’ve found it a lot easier because I am doing a lot more cooking and I am finding what works for me to make the food more enjoyable. My mum is also reaping the benefits of my veganism. I live with her and cook for both of us.

During the Black Lives Matter movement, I wrote this poem:

I’m black and I’m proud!
Why can’t I say it out loud?
Is it because I am supposed to be ashamed?
Am I societies lion yet to be tamed?
Is it because I’m supposed to fade to the back, mix in with the crowd and blend in with the sea of black?
Is it because, “the struggle” was supposed to break me? The struggle, it made me because my ancestors were beaten and raped.
And that history was wrapped around me but yet I escaped. Escaped all the pain, the hurt, the inhumanity.
All these stereotypes are driving me to the brink of insanity.
Let’s not forget that my people are no longer slaves, but the inequality repeatedly crushes us under it’s waves.
Because my ancestors were taken from their homeland and stripped of their pride.
The unspoken truth that I’m supposed to hide. Because I’m supposed to be poor.
All these typical black rumours are just jars without lids.
But I won’t let this world bring me down, smack me, beat me, bruise me, cause I AM BLACK.
I am going to STAND UP and SAY IT OUT LOUD!
I’m here, I’m black and I’m PROUD!

Abe is third year Sports and Exercise Science student at University of East London